Photo Essay: Latte Art Throwdown in Bay City

Populace Coffee Bay City, 810 Saginaw St., invited baristas from around the state to gather in Bay City and show off their skills in the Latte Art Throwdown Bay City.

The judges – Alicia Cunningham, at left, and Sarah Bogert, middle, from Populace Coffee and Andy Vickers, right, of Birmingham Roast ¬– closed their eyes as the baristas put their work on the counter, then each judge pointed to a favorite.The competition drew 16 competitors from as far away as Grand Rapids and Detroit.The competition was conducted in brackets. The 16 baristas were paired at random for the initial bracket. Each barista prepared a cup and the winner advanced to the next bracket. Three judges examined the work of all 16 competitors. The baristas used milk foam and crema (which is the layer of foam on the surface of the espresso shot) to create works of art to show the judges. The judges peered into the cups looking for consistency, creativity, contrast, and defined lines made from espresso, crema, and perfectly-textured steamed milk. A glossy sheen and no visible bubbles also are highly desirable in latte art.

Coffee lovers and baristas packed the house for the throwdown, choosing their favorite designs, enjoying each other’s company, and, of course, sipping lattes.Classic latte art designs are the heart or a leaf-like rosetta. Experienced baristas, though, can create other shapes such as swans or tulips. 

The two key ingredients for making a delicious cup of latte are fresh expresso with an adequate amount of crema and a properly textured steamed milk.Prizes included a grinder from one of the sponsors, Baratza. Competitors also walked away with ceramic mugs and stainless steel tumblers.

In the end, Caleb of Birmingham Roasters took top honors.In the end, Caleb from Birmingham Roast in Birmingham, Michigan, won top honors.

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